Who Do You Know? Making Your Connections Work For You

It may seem unfair, but who you know can be more important than what you know. A little digging into the world of music and entertainment will show you this, as you may be surprised at the family connections between a lot of the people in these industries. However, it is not just in the entertainment world that this sort of situation exists, as it is present to a degree in most businesses. Let’s put it frankly, if you are a boss looking to choose between two candidates with the same skills, and one was your cousin, who is likely to get the job? Indeed, the job may not even get to the stage of being advertised, as you may just recommend that your cousin could fill the vacancy before it is made public. This is all well if you have connections in the industry that you want to get into, but what do you do if you don’t have them? Are you destined to remain an outsider, or is there a way to work your way in to become an ‘insider?’

Fortunately, there are very few places that are totally closed to you if you have the right skills and work ethic. Most businesses want employees who can do the job well, but if you can show that you can save or make money, for example, then you are likely to be in demand wherever you choose to go.

However, opening that first door and getting a chance can seem like the most difficult part, with many young people complaining of a catch-22 between needing experience to get a job, but needing a job to get experience. In instances like this you may fancy looking into doing some work experience, or maybe even signing up to get experience while you train with an apprenticeship.

By getting involved in a business on work experience or via an apprenticeship you can not only gain some skills, but also make a few connections that could come in useful for getting a job later.

That said, don’t forget to use your existing network of friends and family – you may be surprised by what they can help you with. Why not try mentioning your career goals to an uncle or aunt for example, they may just know someone who can help. They may nt own a large corporation, but your friends and family are a great place to start. Bear in mind that people are busy with their own lives, so don’t pester them, but you may be able to ask if they have any advice to help you.

If you draw a blank with your immediate circle of contacts you might want to try and make some new ones online – possibly through a business-minded social network like LinkedIn. Make sure your social media profiles don’t contain anything that could be incriminating or turn potential employers off (as ever), and then see if you can make some useful connections online.

Again, remember that these people are busy and aren’t there just to facilitate your career dreams. Keep it short and be specific, so perhaps say, “I have been researching your company and would love 15 minutes of your time to chat about what you do as I am looking to get into that sort of work. Could you help me, whenever it is convenient for you?’ Make sure to follow up with your request too – as people may take some polite prompting – especially if they are busy!

Networking may seem false as a thing to do, but it can make all the difference with your career, so pay attention to those people around you and think how they may be able to help you get ahead. Getting along with other people is important, whether you are at college or work – you never know what doors they may be able to help open for you!

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